Keeping down business taxes, supporting consumers, and aiding retailers’ investment in skills should be at the heart of the Scottish Government’s Budget this autumn, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).
In its Budget submission entitled ‘Shaping retail reinvention’ sent last week to the Finance Secretary, the SRC highlights the sheer pace of the profound changes affecting retail and proposes recommendations to Government - and Parliament as a whole - in key areas affecting consumers and retailers such as Scottish income tax, devolved business taxes, and skills funding.
Specifically, the SRC is recommending that Scottish Ministers:
- Freeze the headline business rate poundage
- Accelerate the timetable for restoring the level playing field on the large firms’ rates supplement
- Scrap the proposed new rates levy on out of town and online businesses
- Rule out increases in income tax and speed up the introduction of the zero-rate income tax band
- Increase the flexible workforce development fund and the amount firms can access
- Engage business on the soon to be devolved post-Brexit powers so that they are implemented or flexed in a sensible and cost-effective manner
The submission from the leading sectoral trade association comes ahead of the publication later this year of the devolved administration’s spending and taxation plans for 2019-20.
The retail industry is Scotland’s largest private sector employer, providing almost a quarter of a million jobs, and the SRC’s members include well known high street, out-of-town, online and grocery retailers. However Scottish retail is an industry in transition and official data has shown a drop in the number of shops and retail jobs over recent years.